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How Does Adoption Affect Your Family?

When you decide to adopt a child, it will change the dynamic of your family and your friendships — and that is OK. It isn't a bad thing!

So, how does adoption affect the family? What are the social effects of adoption?

From new responsibilities, conversations about your journey, explaining adoption to the siblings, to even the added financial strain of a new child, this guide helps you understand some of the changes adopting a child will have on your family and friends and what you can do to prepare for them.

Every adoption situation is unique, so family and friends’ reactions and involvement in the adoption will vary. Having a general understanding of what to expect can provide peace of mind that you are ready to handle the social effects of adoption.

Keep reading this guide on how adoption will affect the family and how to prepare for it.

Adoption and Your Family

When you choose to pursue the adoption of an infant, toddler, or older child, you understand your family will change because it is getting bigger. While the growth does change the overall dynamic of your family, there are more significant impacts that you need to prepare for. Although there are no guarantees on how the social effects of adoption will change, below, you can find general experiences that you may consider.

Your Relationship with Your Partner

Adoption is a life-changing journey that would not be possible without the love and support of your partner, and the mutual agreement to pursue this path. While you get to share in the excitement of reaching your goals of parenthood, there will be changes along the way that can impact your relationship both positively and negatively.

Keep in mind when you raise a child there will be:

  • Changes in your everyday responsibilities and routines
  • Potential changes in your sleep habits
  • Various parenting challenges as your child grows older
  • Financial changes and increased expenses
  • Many others

These factors and more can all bring up challenging moments in your relationship — but they can also help strengthen your relationship.

Focus on the positives. Watching how great your spouse interacts with your child, or seeing how well they handle the everyday stresses of parenthood, can create new and increased affection for one another. Yes, these changes add a whole new level to your relationship, but handling and communicating through them is crucial to keeping a happy and healthy relationship.

Together, you and your partner are choosing or have already chosen to grow your family through adoption. Never lose sight of what led you to your decision to begin with. Celebrate the accomplishments, no matter how big or small, and remain open and honest through the challenges. How adoption will affect the family dynamic of you and your spouse will depend on how you allow it to. 

Put yourself in the best position by constantly strengthening the support system you and your partner already have for each other and sharing in growing the love you have for your child.

Your Relationship with Your Children

If you are pursuing adoption while you already have children, one of the first things you should do is explain to your children your adoptive plans. In most situations, how they respond will depend on their age.

Explaining the adoption process and your reasoning to them helps them fully understand the situation and gives them a sense of involvement. Some ways to discuss adoption with your child include: 

  • Using educational books and movies so they can better relate.
  • Ask for their opinions before making any decisions.
  • Include them in the adoption process and explain each step.
  • Listen and respect their feelings about before, during, and after.
  • Use different techniques depending upon their age.
  • Anything else you feel comfortable with.

Having these conversations about how adoption will affect the family with your son or daughter will help prepare them for the changes that are about to come. Becoming a sibling will impact children differently, but with the right preparation and understanding, the impact can be a positive one.

Your Relationship with Your Parents

For many, the news of becoming grandparents is something parents have dreamt about from the moment they gave birth or adopted. Although adoption provides this opportunity in a unique way, the significance is just as important and impactful. Discussing your adoption plans with your parents can be a challenge for some, as they may not initially understand your decision.

You may consider explaining:

  • The reasoning behind why you chose adoption.
  • The benefits of adopting a child.
  • Your excitement for their involvement as grandparents.
  • The adoption process, so they are up to speed on each step and what stage you are currently involved in.
  • Anything else you feel will help them understand and feel included in your adoption.

Having their support and understanding helps make the adoption process much easier for everyone involved. Adoption will change their role, as they will make up a large component of the support system for your child. Adopting can bring different changes from childcare to offering the same love and care a grandparent provides for their biological grandchildren. Teaching them the importance of positive adoption language is also beneficial for everyone involved.

Every family and adoption situation is different. Approach the conversations with an open mind and be willing to discuss any questions or concerns your parents may have with how adoption will affect the family.

Your Relationship with Your Siblings

Every adoptive family chooses this path for their own personal reasons. Explaining your decision to adopt a child to your brother or sister helps keep everyone on the same page and gives them an opportunity to ask any questions they may have. Becoming an aunt or an uncle is an exciting time for your brother or sister. Ensuring they understand the importance of having a strong support system for your child should be a top priority. 

Your Relationship with Your Friends

Although everyone grasps the concept of adoption differently, explaining your plans to adopt a child to your friends should not be much of a challenge. As some of the people you are closest to, they should understand and fully support you as you make this life-changing decision. Talking them through some of the expectations, language, and the adoption process helps them relate to you and your child and get a better sense of some of the changes ahead.

Parenthood brings on many different responsibilities and requires plenty of time and planning. Those who may notice the social effects of adoption the most might be your friends. Because you are responsible for the well-being of your child, this may impact your availability to attend gatherings and events. Depending upon your friend group, having a child with you may change the dynamic of your get-togethers as well. 

By no means does this have to be viewed as negative or mean you have to find new friends, it is just worth mentioning that there may be some changes early on. Adapting to these changes and including your child in your friendships will only help strengthen the support system already in place.

How Does Adoption Affect the Family: Different Adoption Situations

While the majority of impact on your family will revolve around conversations, education, and adapting to a new role, some adoption situations tend to be a bit more difficult to navigate. Transracial adoption brings on an additional set of challenges than that of a same-race adoption. 

The social effects of transracial adoption can impact your family and child in numerous ways. No matter how open-minded you may consider your parents, siblings, or friends, when you adopt a child of a different race, there can be challenges with things like:

Racism- Can you ensure your family and friends will support and love a child of a different race? Discussing your thoughts on a transracial adoption with your family is imperative before making any decisions, as this could change your relationship with them and have negative impacts on your child's development as well.

Questioning your decision- Difficulties understanding why you didn't choose to adopt a child of the same race can cause long-term problems between family and friends. Although it is ultimately your decision to make, having discussions with friends and family about their views on transracial adoption can lead to helpful conversations and points of view.

Cultural differences- No matter the age of the child you adopt, there will be cultural differences challenges and during a transracial adoption. Talking to your family and friends about accepting these differences and working to bridge the gap can help avoid any negative impact on your child.

A lack of diversity- It is important for a child of a different race to have proper racial-ethnic socialization as they grow up. To achieve this, you, your family, and your friends may be asked to step outside of your comfort zones and involve yourself and establish a broader worldview. This may include moving to a more diverse neighborhood, enrolling your child in more mixed cultural activities, and more. You and your family will have to be open-minded towards facilitating the social experience your child will need as they grow older.

The social effects of transracial adoption will impact you, your family, and your friends. Understanding and preparing are crucial towards the overall success of the relationships you have with your family and friends, as well as the well-being of your child.

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